50 gorgeous pink Lautrec garlic cloves ready to go in the ground!


I was absolutely thrilled to discover I could plant garlic in the spring. Apparently yields are slightly less than for autumn planted garlic but who cares – I get to grow garlic! This variety have a lovely flavour and nice big plump bulbs, they are quite expensive in the shop too so well worth growing, fingers crossed they do grow for me. I can’t wait to see how they go, I’ll definitely update!


Garden Part II – summer 2015

The summer of 2015 was hot, hot, hot with days well into the 40’s and most days well over 30 with no rain for months so plans for veggies etc didn’t come through as it was just too hot and dry. Most of the summer was spent just trying to keep the lawn alive, clear up any obvious weeds (including our nightmare Japenese Knotweed problem) and I also got a small herb garden and rose garden planted by the terrace where we spent most of our time when it was warm (right up until November actually as it was such a mild autumn as well!).

This was how I did the miniature rose garden, I dug up the grass as best I could then planted the roses (pink and white alternating – although some had lost all their flowers in the heat so it was a bit of a guess that did work out!):

Then I covered with thick brown cardboard with holes cut out for the roses and covered it all in soil:

Then a final layer of mulch to help further with the weeds and keeping the water in:

In hindsight I definitely did the right thing with the cardboard, I had very few weeds come through. I shouldn’t have used dry grass as the mulch as I think there were still the odd seed in it and I also should have been more thorough clearing out the grass to start with as it has been my main problem! The other thing I should have done was put an edge on as I’m always having grass creeping in. There are lots of things coming up for sale now it is coming to spring so I’ll get something soon to add. Despite the heat they did very well and flowered all summer and right through until November or December. I also don’t’ know how big these mini roses get and I fear I may have planted them too far apart so I’m going to attempt to move them closer to each other I think as I’d like to get a hydrangea in on the end of the bed! If anyone thinks this is a very bad idea please tell me!

I didn’t take many garden pics over the summer but my lovely sister in law Naomi just sent me some so I could share, including this fabulous panoramic one – it makes the perspective a bit odd – the wall is actually on right angles to the herb beds but gives you a bit of an idea:

Our lovely basil and other herbs and gorgeous niece Zelda (her and Rémy are only a few weeks apart and it was so lovely having them spend lots of time together!):

And a little montage of some late summer blooms!

I’ll make sure I get more pictures to share this summer!


The chook / hen / chicken house / coop plans!

For months and months I’ve been planning on getting chickens and trying to design the best house I can for them! Some of the coops online are just incredible and there is so much information out there on what you should (and shouldn’t!) do that the whole thing has become slightly overwhelming!

We are so blessed to have already at the back of the a 2m x 2m concrete base ready to go – I’m particularly pleased about this as it is the ‘gold standard’ for keeping your chickens safe from predators as nothing can dig under concrete! There is also a secure gate to open into the run and even the posts to take the wire in the run! Here was a photo I posted of that corner in another post:

And a rough sketch of the layout:

Within the 2×2 metre coop area the actual house will be the size of a pallet as that is what I’m using for the base (covered in a piece of chipboard then lino for easy cleaning) so that is 1 x 1.2 m.

Our neighbours all have gorgeous gardens (and we are trying to head that way) so want to make something that is attractive as well as practical and safe for our new family members! Here in the Dordogne they have a particular roof style known as the Perigord style so we have incorporated that as a design feature over the coop. Sadly as our house is a barn conversion we don’t have any rooflines like that ourselves so this is an exciting addition!!

The area itself is fairly shaded in the day in the summer but we are going to have shutters on the side facing the house so we can open it up to let air in (chickens need good ventilation), watch them from the house if they are inside and it will also enable easy access for cleaning.

On the southern side the will be 3 laying boxes coming out from the main structure with a fold down door to access the eggs. I’m hoping this is the right decision as I originally had it where you opened from the top which I thought would be easier for the kids to get at but then I was worried about cleaning it – would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.

The northern side of the coop is where the entry is and access is via the gate into the run then into the coop. I’m hoping this will reduce the chances of escaped chickens (our garden is currently only fenced on 2 sides and there are wandering dogs). I’m afraid my drawing / perspective skills got the better of me at this point so this only shows the front half of the coop!

And this is the view from inside looking at the house part (again struggling with my drawing skills!):

The area under the house is open for them and I’ll hang their food and water dispensers under there. The ramp will have natural sticks as the treads so need to find some nice ones as they are better for their feet than cut wood, and of course they look pretty! There will be a drop down door to close their house at night with a hook and rope system from the outside.

So there we have it – I can’t wait to get going! We already have the wood for the house section – 2 Ikea futon bases and a pallet for the base so just need to get the rest of the wood and the hardcloth for the coop and chicken wire for the run.

Homemade nettle tea!

Sorry for the lack of posts – our house has a been a constant stream of illness ever since we came back from our Christmas trip to the UK! It is a combination of us not having any European immunity and the mild winter which hasn’t killed off all the bugs! This week we all have shocking colds, luckily it is the holidays (again!) so at least the kids aren’t missing yet more school.

We are getting more and more interested in natural remedies and with lots of lovely young nettles springing up after all the rain we’ve had the man decided to make some nettle tea! I was a little sceptical and unsure how it would taste but I was pleasantly surprised! Nettle tea is good for a number of health issues, it contains lots of fabulous vitamins and trace minerals and is a great support for the immune system. The man felt much better after we had it – I wasn’t feeling as rotten yesterday to notice a difference – but I’ve just sent him out now to harvest some more!


Garden part I

One of the things we loved as soon as we saw the house was the garden. I thought I better do some posts about it as it has started featuring heavily in my life again the last few days with some gorgeous spring like weather!

It was pretty bare when we viewed the house as it was the end of winter. By the time we got back to France in May it looked like a jungle and scared the life out of us! Here are some photos of what we had to work and deal with!

The figs outside the back door!

The greenhouse all set up and ready to go (not – but at least the bones are there!).

Looking back up at the house from the greenhouse door:

Stood on the terrace (next to the house in the first photo) looking back down the garden (yes we do have our own windmill!!):

Panning left:

And left again (our land ends where the tree line is):

Some massive ancient yukkas at the front:

Wow that makes me exhausted just looking at that!

Home made vine wreath.

I have been wanting to make a wreath for a very long time, a simple wooden one that can be decorated depending on the season. Our barn door was looking sadly barn like and the front of the house a little drab and not like a house (well it was a barn and has some characteristics that are more barn than house like!). Someone dropped Josh off after his youth group and commented ‘wow it really is a barn’ which spurred me to take a closer look and to do some quick fixes to make it look a bit more loved and house like from the front!

I had a search online of some tutorials for making your own wreath and lots of them used vine branches – what do you know I have a big one growing (and desperately needing some trimming) at each end of our property! We actually have 2 barns, one that we live in and is in the process of being renovated and the other which is just a barn so to avoid confusion I’ll call the house barn the house and the other barn the barn from here on in!

It was actually pretty easy and fun as well, I think I’ll be making more of them, although I was surprised at the number of vines I used so I’m not sure how many I’ll be able to get from our grape vines.

My first decoration scheme is obviously autumn, with a simple oak twig and acorns. I’m quite impressed with the effect and I think it looks like someone lives here now!

I’ve now added some lovely coloured leaves but it is pouring today so I’ll wait for some sun to get an update photo! Halloween decorations for it are all organised, the lovely couple in our village épicerie (general store) got me in some gorgeous little mini decorative pumpkins. I just need to work out how to attach them!

First Frost!

I was very excited last week to have the first proper frost of the year (not so excited the night before when there was a little frost which nearly wiped out the entire seasons basil crop!). I managed to get some pictures of the lovely view driving down our lane when I took Louis to school – you can see the village in the distance, we are about a kilometre out of town.

Coming back towards our house the sun was coming up at the side of our barn, the frost didn’t last long at all once the sun was up as our days are still fairly nice and warm. Spot the pesky mole hill!

And a couple in the garden:

In this one you can see the 2m x 2m concrete base and gate that are already there waiting for my hen house and run at the back of the garden! The house is about 10m behind me when I took this to give you some perspective.

The weather has warmed up a bit again – thankfully as we aren’t quite ready for the -1 degree nights yet, it was a bit nippy! Our wood heater is working well though so our kitchen / living is warm and cosy as is the boys room above.

Amazing Autumn!

I love autumn, the colours of the trees, the feeling of the long, hot summer coming to an end, the darkening of the evenings, getting ready for winter, the smell of woodsmoke in the air in the evenings. The seasons were one of the things I missed most when living back in Australia – especially when we were in Queensland!

Having our wood delivered by our lovely neighbour and lighting the fire for the first time was a joy as it has been so long!

The boys were fabulous and as it was Wednesday afternoon, which they have off, they stacked all of it!

With our garden full of hazelnut and walnut trees there has been lots of nut harvesting over the last month or so. We were waiting impatiently for the hazelnuts to be ready, checking them every few days (the trees had so many of them on there!), then from one check to the next they had all disappeared! We think the squirrels must have been onto it quicker than us! We got a bowl full and that is it!

The walnut trees are a different story, they have been coming down for weeks now and we collect them up every couple of days and lay them flat in the sun for a few days to dry out, there are kilos and kilos of them! This was our first bag, which were thought was a lot – what did we know, this was barely a tip of an iceberg!

This was another days harvest, the 3 different containers have the nuts from the three trees. I’ve gone and bought a proper collecting basket now to help deal with them all!

I ended up finishing collecting with a little helper who just wanted his mummy who had been out collecting nuts for far to long for his liking!


The lanes around are full of chestnut trees and my MIL (mother in law) has been collecting them when she takes the baby for a walk. We haven’t done anything with them yet but we are looking at recipes on line and working out what to do!

We also have had bounty from the neighbours garden, amazing apples and excitingly some quinces. I’ve never seen or used a quince before but love the quince paste that is so popular in Australia to eat with cheese. It is also known as Membrillo in Spain where it is very famous. We decided to try our hand at making it – we had a change of direction as we were going to do jam and had already added a few of the apples so we have ended up with quince and apple paste but it is still delicious (although a little sweeter than the original). I’m going to pack it up in little squares and use it and gift in in the coming months (apparently it keeps at least 3 months with some people saying it is fine for up to 12 months).

I’ve spotted some rouge rhubarb growing in what will be the veggie patch so I’m waiting for that to be ready.

Am completely loving autumn and all the amazing produce that comes with it!